What is a "Brain State"?

My intention is to describe a complete picture of a physical human brain at theoretical point in time, wherein all of the relevant variables are known. From this complete blueprint, in theory, an identical brain could be manufactured if the technology to do so were available.

Now, one might question whether such a complete blueprint were possible without knowing path variables and extrinsic variables that influenced the brain. One may not be able to obtain a complete description of a physical object without knowing the values of path variables, e.g., where it was located previously, or distance traveled. In other words, an isolated snapshot in time reveals state variables, but not path variables. Likewise, external forces might be influencing a particle such that without knowing extrinsic variables, one would not have complete information about an object by discovering intrinsic variables alone.

The distinction between path variables and state variables is illustrated by an automobile odometer, which performs a transformation of a path variable (distance traveled) to a state variable (the odometer reading). Thus, the odometer gives us a more complete picture of the automobile at a point in time. Such information might be valuable in predicting how much longer the car will last before repairs are needed.

The Brain as Transformative

I have a similar claim regarding the brain (although a brain is obviously more complex and arguably more capable than an automobile odometer): The brain has the capability of transforming path variables into state variables; and extrinsic variables into intrinsic variables. The former is a function of memory—events may temporarily or permanently alter the physical configuration of the brain and thus may be retrievable. This is what one expresses when saying “I remember such and such.” To understand how a person would be debilitated if her brain had no capability for transforming path variables into state variables, imagine a person without memory stuck in a maze with distinguishable paths. Without the innate ability to keep track of paths already tried, she would be doomed to repeating the same mistakes multiple times until she found the way out by sheer luck.

The ability to transform extrinsic variables into intrinsic variables is a function of sense perception. External stimuli intercepted by the sense organs transform the physical structure of the brain such that relevant external events might be inferred by examining the physical brain.

Therefore, because of these transformations performed by the brain, it may not be necessary to know path or extrinsic variables to obtain a complete picture of the brain state at a moment in time. State and intrinsic variables may be sufficient (and are in theory discoverable by physical examination of the brain). I am not claiming that the brain retains a memory of every past encounter or responds to all external stimuli. But the unretained information, in that it does not influence behaviour, is irrelevant to the arguments which reference brain state that I will develop later.

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“Free Will” as Self-Contradictory

Alas, I have come to believe that the term free will is self-contradictory, if will is understood as Will, the entity inside me which makes decisions. I cannot simultaneously be both free and have a godlike Will directing me. For if I am truly free, nothing is determining my actions, including a decision-maker within. If something is governing my actions, whether that be a voice within me or a deterministic force outside me, I am not free, but rather enslaved.

If I cannot have both freedom and Will, then which will I sacrifice? If I choose to keep freedom and sacrifice Will, how will that look? Perhaps like a leaf floating freely on a pond, or a feather blowing freely in the air—subject only to the laws of nature and the dynamic, indeterminate future suggested by quantum physics. I understand now that Will is not necessary for my freedom. Rather, Will constrains freedom. Nature itself gives me freedom, and there is no contradiction between the laws of physics and my freedom—they are one in the same. The many illusive attempts at compatibilism notwithstanding, the solution is staring us in the face, and is simple: Nature gives humans freedom, in complete harmony with science.

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Absolute Free Will

Some suggest that a human has a high, if not complete, degree of control over events to the extent they affect her, decisions she makes, and her own biological processes. This is sometimes associated with spirituality and religion. One interesting website promotes “universal laws” combined with free will and asserts: “You will be the master of your own fate if you understand how these laws operate.” Further, “Most people think their lives are run by luck and co-incidence. It is not. It is run by how they think and feel - by how they communicate with the Universe through their vibrations” (Loken).

The popularized Law of Attraction suggests something similar: Simply put, the Law of Attraction is the ability to attract into our lives whatever we are focusing on. It is believed that regardless of age, nationality or religious belief, we are all susceptible to the laws which govern the Universe, including the Law of Attraction. It is the Law of Attraction which uses the power of the mind to translate whatever is in our thoughts and materialize them into reality. In basic terms, all thoughts turn into things eventually [emphasis original]. If you focus on negative doom and gloom you will remain under that cloud. If you focus on positive thoughts and have goals that you aim to achieve you will find a way to achieve them with massive action. (Greater Minds)

There even exists a physical immortality movement, which suggests that through willpower one can alter DNA and prevent death:

Physical immortality is a very sophisticated high speed system and once you change to it you can never go back to the old, you become used to quality and everything else is primitive. As we evolve to a higher life, the death life starts to look like a dinosaur. We have to let it all go and let ourselves be made over to a new way of being. Everything will change because everything about living physical immortality is different. It is a change of consciousness, a change of body, a change of interaction, a change of priorities. I'm not just talking about self-development or becoming a better person, that's just more of the old system, I am talking about rewriting human DNA, a biological shift from death to immortality. (People Unlimited Inc)


Greater Minds. What Is The Law Of Attraction? Open Your Eyes To A World Of Endless Possibilities. 2013-2020. 13 September 2020.

Loken, Camillo. One Mind - One Energy. 2009-2018. Web. 13 09 2020. .

People Unlimited Inc. LIVING PHYSICAL IMMORTALITY. 7 May 2011. 13 September 2020. .

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What is Free Will?

Free will is commonly thought of as the ability to make choices which have not been predetermined. For example, I have two job offers. Being a rational and logical person, I consider the advantages and disadvantages of each, e.g., salary, benefits, location, working conditions, and opportunities for advancement. I carefully consider the importance of each variable. I “make up my mind” and accept one job. In this scenario, I believe that I have exercised my free will, because I could have chosen differently. It was not my experience that my choice was predetermined. Indeed, if it had been predetermined, then why did I waste my time and energy with rational analysis? Another example: I sit down at my favourite restaurant and the hostess hands me a menu. I do not refuse the menu on the belief that my choice is predetermined. Rather, I carefully look over the menu and choose the most appealing items.

Behaviour Versus Action

Philosopher Alexander Rosenberg lists free will amongst the most thought about issues: He states that “many of the questions of metaphysics are known to most people. For example, Is there a God? Is the mind just the brain, or something altogether nonphysical? Or, Do I have free will?” (2). Indeed, Rosenberg makes a distinction between mere physiological behaviour, such as blinking; and the action of winking, over the latter of which we have psychological control. The implication is that actions are undertaken by choice, i.e., free will. Further, Rosenberg says that action is what concerns social [in contrast to physical] scientists (35).

Rosenberg, Alexander. Philosophy of Social Science. Fifth. Boulder: Westview Press, 2016. Print.

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